JazzTimes (11/96, p.112) - "...All four pianists coax a wealth of rich, deep, swinging sound from their instrument, inciting the listener to pursue Phineas further."
Contemporary Piano Ensemble: James Williams, Harold Mabern, Mulgrew Miller, Geoff Keezer (piano).
Additional personnel includes: Bob Cranshaw (bass); Billy Higgins (drums).
Personnel: Geoff Keezer, Harold Mabern, Mulgrew Miller, James Williams (piano); Billy Higgins (drums).
Liner Note Authors: Scott Yanow; James Williams .
Recording information: A & R Recording, NY, NY (06/30/1989); A&R Studios, New York, NY (06/30/1989).
Photographer: Phoebe Ferguson.
Although the Contemporary Piano Ensemble consisted of the four pianists heard on this CD (James Williams, Harold Mabern, Mulgrew Miller and Geoff Keezer), plus Donald Brown, the group had actually not formed at the time of this recording. And, unlike the group's later performances, which typically featured four of the pianists at one time, this set actually has two numbers apiece showcasing each of the players in a trio with bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Billy Higgins. Only on the concluding "It Don't Mean a Thing," on which the four pianists take turns soloing on one piano, is there any interaction between the keyboardists. However, despite the use of the future group's name, this is an excellent set. All four of the pianists (who in their different ways were paying tribute to Phineas Newborn on this CD) are in superior form, whether playing originals, Newborn's "Back Home," or standards performed by the late, great pianist. In fact, since everyone is in top form, it is impossible to say that one particular player takes honors. A consistently strong set easily recommended to fans of the modern mainstream piano. ~ Scott Yanow